Back in February 1990 the world looked on amazed as Nelson Mandela walked to freedom out of Victor Verster Prison. However, a sizeable number of people were profoundly shocked, as they distinctly remembered him dying in prison years before. This false memory was so compelling it’s led to an idea called the Mandela effect.
When most of us misremember events we accept that we’re wrong – perhaps not immediately, but it does happen eventually. Perhaps we hear of someone famous’ death and think “I thought they’d died years ago” before quickly realising that they couldn’t have done.
We’d put that down to confusion, or perhaps just the way that our memory works. After all, if visitors to Disneyland can be persuaded to remember meeting Daffy Duck there then our memories can’t be infallible.
For subscribers to the Mandela effect though the explanation is somewhat different. They believe that at particular points the earth’s timeline splits, or that they accidentally travel into an alternative universe. Sometimes it’s caused by experiments in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and sometimes by significant moments in history. Given that the effect often concerns things like the Domino’s Pizza logo and whether the cereal is called Fruit Loops or Froot Loops then presumably CERN are doing most of the heavy lifting.
In fact, it’s noticeable that the Mandela Effect mostly only covers points of detail. For instance in one example the only difference between the two alternative universes is an old Noel Edmonds TV show. Not the outcome of the Brexit Referendum, or the election of Hilary Clinton as American President, but whether they saw an accident on live Saturday evening television.
Rather than alternative realities or ‘glitches in the matrix’ if the Mandela effect is proof of anything it’s the power of communal ‘memory’ to override our own. That, and perhaps the power of the internet to bring together like minded individuals who would have previously have thought that they were the only people who remembered when the US had 52 states.
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